Townsend, Tennessee - Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, East Tennessee and Western North Carolina

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is sunny and 67 degrees in Townsend this morning.  There is a lot of activity.  I think visitors have arrived for the holiday weekend.  I slept an extra hour this morning after spending the day on the river yesterday, all day.  I arrived at work at 8:05, which is late for me.  Rob Fightmaster is parked in the lot waiting for a client or two.  They will fish in the Smokies and they will probably do well. He and Brian fished yesterday on the West Prong of Little River.  Rob said the fishing was good but the stream was surprisingly stained from rain the night before.  None of us knew about any rain the night before.  That happens a lot in the Smokies.

Little River is flowing at 214 cubic feet per second (cfs).  Median flow for this date is 185 cfs.  The water temperature was 61 degrees at 8:10 am. 

Fishing is very good in the Smokies.  Use any yellow dry fly.  You can try other flies and they will probably work fine.  But now, yellow is hot.  That is because the Yellow Sally Stoneflies are hatching and laying eggs.  That will continue through the Summer though the numbers of insects will drop off considerably.  During the Summer, terrestrials work very well.  Since there is not much aquatic insect food available during the hot months, trout in the mountains will eat anything they can find.  That is why Green Weenies work so well.  They look like a normal food and they must be tasty.  I’ve never eaten one.

I’m hearing good tailwater fishing reports for trout.  The Clinch is apparently fishing fair though the lack of flow is causing the water to be warm and lacking in oxygen.  I don’t know for sure what the problem is.  But, anglers are still catching some trout and nice trout too.

The lack of flow in the Clinch has a lot of people worried, as they should be.  I met Rufus King on the lake last night.  He is Chairman of the Tennessee Council of Trout Unlimited.  He has some people working on the problem with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).  Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has been contacted as well.

From what I have read, TVA tries to follow resolutions written and submitted by TWRA.  I suspect, in the case of the Clinch River tailwater, TWRA asked TVA through a formal resolution to establish and maintain minimum flows.  I think I remember this happening during my early years in Trout Unlimited.  Also, TWRA has submitted resolutions pertaining to lake levels.  I read one of those a couple of nights ago.  TWRA wants to see the impoundments at full pool during the Summer for recreational boating and fishing reasons.  I bet, right now, TVA is caught between trying to fulfill both obligations.  You can’t raise a lake by letting a lot of water out.  This is just my personal opinion.  I really don’t know exactly what’s going on.  I just hope they get more water into that tailwater quickly, before it’s too late.

The lowland rivers should be fishing well for smallmouth bass.  Hopefully most of them are running clear right now.  This is prime time for catching smallmouth bass on top water flies, like poppers. 

I can’t say that lake fishing, using top water flies is good right now.  Jack and I fished the Little Tennessee River yesterday, all day.  Fishing was very slow.  I have not had a good day on the Little T for over two weeks.  Usually, especially in May the smallies are hitting on top well.  This has been a strange year, weather-wise.  I thought yesterday would be perfect.  It was not.

Also, the shellcrackers were not on the beds in big numbers.  We found a few beds and Jack caught one huge shellcracker.  But, some of the areas we fished yesterday, where the shellcrackers are on the beds in May, we saw only a few white spots.  So, maybe they are spawning late or maybe they won’t spawn in big numbers this year.  Maybe things are different in other watersheds.  The Little Tennessee offers some of the toughest fishing to be had.  You get skunked often.  Biologists blame that on the lack of nutrients.  The water is clear and sterile.

Jack and I launched at about 9:15 am and pulled the boat out at 7:00 pm.  I was and still am tired.  But, breathing that hydrogen all day sure does relax me and maybe that’s why I love fishing so much.  It makes me calm.

You are going to see crowds on the water this weekend.  The lakes are going to be littered with pleasure craft.  The streams are going to have lot’s of people fishing, skipping rocks and swimming.  This weekend is the kickoff of tubing season.  We are going to have high temperatures in the 90’s.  I will not be fishing this weekend or any other weekend.  I fish during the week.  But a lot of people will be out there.  On Tuesday, things will be back to normal.

Have a great day and thank you for being here with us.

Byron Begley
May 25, 2012

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